Vicki Hogue-Davies 2013-07-31 12:20:49
What does a Brontosaurus have to do with DUI defense? For Attorney Brian D. Sloan, the nonexistent dinosaur offered a creative and entertaining way for him to make his point, in front of judge and jury, that what science says is true, isn’t always the case, thereby creating doubt about the accuracy of the scientific device used to measure his client’s blood alcohol level. Sloan, who focuses solely on DUI defense, has honed himself through hard work and studious research into an expert on Arizona’s tough DUI laws. He has defended more than 1,700 DUI clients and has gone to trial on more than 70 felony and misdemeanor cases, earning many favorable results for his clients, including numerous not guilty verdicts, beneficial plea agreements, and dismissals. “DUI is a very specialized area of the law,” Sloan says. “It is complicated, with thousands of Court of Appeal and Supreme Brian D. Sloan Bringing nearly 10 years of expert DUI representation to clients By Vicki Hogue-Davies Court rulings solely concerning driving under the in fluence. Knowing the science, case law and latest tricks-of-the-trade is what makes me an absolute asset to my clients.” In addition to his exclusive focus on DUI defense, Sloan attributes the success of his practice to a diligent work ethic, a bit of out-of-the box thinking and creativity, and an honest compassion for the people he defends. “I treat my clients the way I would want to be treated,” he says. “Being charged with a DUI is a scary thing. I try to do what I can to be there for my clients in every practicable way. “I know the law and am willing to say ‘something doesn’t look right, let me do some research,’” Sloan adds. “I fight when I need to fight, but I am not a constantly barking dog. I believe in being friendly with prosecutors and treating them as adversaries not enemies. I believe that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. However, if a prosecutor or police officer is screwing around, that’s when I show my anger, and that is when judges and jurors take notice. “And when I negotiate a plea agreement for my client, I ask for a plea agreement that I truly feel is appropriate. At sentencing, some attorneys always ask for the minimum. I am not one of those attorneys because if I am a repeating record in front of the judge, always asking for the minimum, I am going to be ignored. For example, if a sentencing range is 30 to 120 days, it might be appropriate to ask for 45 days. That way I gain credibility, which helps my clients. Putting on a show for the client and actually helping the client are two different things.” Sloan’s expertise in the workings of DUI law extends much further than his personal law office. He is also the founder of the AZ DUI Team, which brings together experienced and excellent DUI attorneys, as well as other experts in the field, to help people accused of a DUI have the best chance of success. He also created and maintains MCDUI.com, a website designed to provide the latest updates on Arizona DUI case law, as well as the latest news and information to attorneys and the public at large. A Diligent Worker Sloan has never backed away from hard work. As a law student at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., he completed his Juris Doctorate degree in two-and-a-half years rather than the typical three years. During that time, he also earned a separate certificate in dispute resolution from the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution. Sloan discovered his passion for law while earning his undergraduate degree in journalism at California State University, Northridge. A requirement of the degree was taking a First Amendment Law class. From that class, Sloan discovered he loved the law, which led to him taking several business law classes while he earned his degree in journalism. “Once I graduated with a degree in journalism, and with half a dozen law classes under my belt, I decided to take the LSAT,” he recounts. During law school, Sloan took as many criminal law classes and performed as many criminal law internships as he could, so “that I could be well on my way to success upon graduating and passing the bar,” he says. His exposure to DUI law came about through his first job as an attorney. Now he brings his strong work ethic and diligent focus to his own practice. “My practice is unique compared to other firms,” he says. “Not only do I solely focus on DUI defense representation, but when someone hires my law firm, they hire me, personally, and all my years of experience.” As the sole attorney in his practice, Sloan personally handles the cases of all clients who walk through his door. “My clients are my own, and I make myself available to them the best I can,” he says. “They know that part of my job is to be there for them, and answer any questions they might have. They have my personal cell phone number, so they can call or text me with any questions or thoughts. I am happy to meet with them in my office to discuss their cases or put something in an email so that they can properly digest my thoughts.” For potential new clients, Sloan offers a free in-depth consultation with no obligation to hire him. “I am good at what I do, and I let the client know my honest thoughts during the free consultation,” he says. “If the potential client doesn’t want to hire me, that is fine. People charged with DUI, who do their research on lawyers, usually sign up with me.” He also doesn’t hesitate to tell potential clients when it would be a waste of their money to hire him. “If I can tell during the consultation that I would not be able to do anything for the potential client, or that the potential client should take the plea agreement that their current lawyer has already arranged for them, I will absolutely let them know that,” he says. “I don’t need to take people’s money through false promises.” When Sloan takes on a new case, he performs a thorough case review. “The review is usually a one to four page email laying out all my thoughts on the case, including my advice on what should be done,” he explains. “It takes quite a bit of time and work, but it allows my clients to understand my thoughts on the case, what I think is in their best interest, and gives them time to process their options. “I try to treat every one of my clients as a friend,” he continues. “This is a scary time for them. They don’t need someone yelling at them, or telling them that their life is over, or that they are screwed. I am honest with clients and they oft en refer to me as a straight-shooter. “When I need to be, I can also be stern,” Sloan adds. “Some clients just don’t want to face reality. They want to keep fighting even when the writing is on the wall that they will lose at trial, and potentially get years in prison. I am not a yes-man. My clients pay me to look out for their best interests, and I give them my honest opinions, so they can make a fully informed decision. The decision to take a plea agreement, or to go to trial, is my client’s choice, but I won’t stand by, simply nodding my head, if I think my client is making a horrible decision. Sometimes I feel the need to save my clients from themselves.” The ability to help people is where Sloan gains much of his job satisfaction. “I love talking to people and I enjoy the creativity that I can bring to the courtroom,” he says. “I enjoy presenting a case in a way that makes people listen, and hopefully that helps them to agree with my position. And on those days when the stars align, and a judge grants my motion or a jury agrees with my argument, those are the days when I most love my job.” Forming a Team for the Best DUI Representation Because of his concern that people charged with DUI in Arizona don’t always know where to turn to get the best representation, the hard-working Sloan founded the AZ DUI Team. He formed the team to help people find truly experienced DUI representation, at an affordable price, without having to guess about an attorney’s experience and background in DUI representation. The AZ DUI Team’s private practice DUI trial attorneys have extensive experience, handling the full gamut of felony and misdemeanor vehicular cases, and have at least 1,000 related cases under each of their belts. They are highly skilled at legal research and writing, trial practice, and plea negotiations. Sloan was tired of seeing what he sometimes saw as misleading advertising by some DUI lawyers. He believes the team helps separate the truly experienced DUI attorneys from those who spread their fields of representation among numerous areas of the law. “There are very few attorneys who focus completely on DUI representation,” he says. “For the average person, it can be difficult to find a truly experienced DUI attorney. The AZ DUI Team was designed to alert people that it focuses solely on DUI defense representation and other vehicular-related representation. The name was specifically chosen to take the guesswork out of determining if the Law Offices of XYZ or the ABC Law Firm is a good fit to handle someone’s DUI case.” Team members stay at the top of DUI defense work through continuing legal education, and strive to keep up with the current laws, latest case rulings, legal treatises, scholarly articles and scientific literature. Sloan emphasizes that the AZ DUI Team is not a referral service. “Lawyers cannot just pay to be a part of the AZ DUI Team,” he says. “I created the team, and I handpick the attorneys who I feel are experienced enough, and successful enough, to earn a place on it. This ensures not only that potential clients who call us are getting the best representation in town, but also allows me to be satisfied that the attorneys on the team are living up to the level of excellence that I want the team to be known for. “Being able to identify the issues that can change the course of a case is what an experienced DUI defense attorney brings to clients. They can identify police mistakes, unreliable breath, blood and urine tests, and other legal issues that an attorney not as familiar with DUI law cannot,” notes Sloan. The AZ DUI Team also has access to top criminalists, scientists, investigators and reconstructionists, for retesting blood or urine samples, or when a client’s case requires an expert witness. “We have the ability to have access to the right people for each situation,” he says. However, Sloan finds that most cases do not need to utilize any expert witnesses, which amounts to a cost savings to the client. A DUI Education Educating other attorneys, and the public, about DUI law is also a very important priority for Sloan. He speaks at statewide legal seminars three times a year about different aspects of DUI representation, and changes to DUI law. He also enjoys informing the public about DUI topics, and developed a website approximately four years ago, MCDUI.com, as a comprehensive information source for the public and fellow attorneys about DUIs in Arizona, with a focus on Maricopa County. “There is so much bad information out there,” he says. “So I wanted a place where the public and defense community can go to find the latest correct information.” The website includes step-by-step information for those who are arrested for DUI or related charges. It provides the latest in DUI and vehicular case law, news stories and legislative changes. It also contains the most recent version of the official “Arizona Guide to all DUI Punishments and Penalties,” which was also created by Sloan as an easy to use reference guide for defense lawyers. For attorneys, there is a special section accessible by password, which lists information that defense attorneys should be made aware of, but is not accessible by the public or prosecutors. “I hope I am helping,” Sloan says. “I hope the website is helping to inform everyone and to keep everyone updated. Otherwise, someone may not have access to the latest information. Since I was already gathering and writing much of this information for myself, I thought I would share it to make things better for everyone.” Making things better for people arrested for DUI offenses has always been Sloan’s objective. It isn’t always easy, but Sloan believes it is the right thing to do. “I have had the trial where I truly believed my client to be innocent, but the jury has found them guilty. I have had the case where I was able to get my client a fantastic plea agreement, with only months in prison, where I practically begged them to take it. They ended up firing me, hiring someone else, and they ultimately ended up with years in prison. I have had clients cry. I have had clients that are so incredibly grateful. I have had the not guilty verdicts and the guilty ones. Seeing the pain and the satisfaction, seeing some people’s careers coming to an end and others whose careers are saved, drives me to help whomever I can. The field of law is not about money. The field of law is about helping people during a very difficult time,” he concludes. On the Case • One of Sloan’s clients was represented by several attorneys, including one who charged him $10,000, then dropped him. Sloan was able to get the case dismissed for “No Reasonable Likelihood of Conviction.” • Sloan was able to negotiate a misdemeanor with no jail time out of a case that was more than 17 years old. The public defender had previously negotiated a plea to 2 ½ years in prison. • Sloan was able to negotiate a plea agreement of 8 months in prison for a client. The client’s father thought that his son should get something better, so they hired new representation. The client ended up taking a plea to 3 years in prison with the new lawyer. • Client was represented by appointed counsel. Sloan came on the case and wrote a motion that the appointed counsel said was “stupid” and “would never work.” Sloan got the case dismissed. • Sloan had a client with nine prior felonies, and was facing 10-15 years in prison. Sloan believed the client to be innocent of the pending charges. The client was scared of moving forward with the case, but Sloan was able to negotiate a plea agreement of 4 months in prison with probation.
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